This e-mail was sent to the Dateline NBC producer of "America Now: City of Heartbreak and Hope," which aired on April 19, 2010.
After allowing time for the dust and tempers to settle, I want to express my disappointment with the Dateline piece on Detroit. The story told was one-sided, and failed to accurately reflect the other side of the story--and Detroit. For so many who look to outlets such as yours for information, they will yet again walk away with a misperception about the city and its people.
For the access and assistance given to your organization and staff to research this story, the outcome was disappointingly shallow. Media outlets come to the city and tell and then re-tell the same things--Auto epicenter, riots, white flight, desolation. Same story, different byline.
While we acknowledge our challenges, which mirror or even pale to those in other urban cities, we also recognize our potential and accomplishments. Nowhere did the story include those who are buying into and supporting the city's rebirth. No energy or excitement surrounding the Riverfront, Eastern Market, Tech Town, Avalon Bakery, Indian Village, the DIA, Campus Martius, and the list goes on and on.
We are not perfect, nor do we desire to be portrayed as such. But, we also find no value in being incorrectly painted as a city whose residents must resort to hunting racoons for food. It is this image that contributes to fueling decisions to not return, invest or remain in our city.
In all fairness, it would be great for Chris [Hansen] to return and tell the rest of the story--where people are not struggling on $200 every two weeks to feed their families, shooting racoons to eat, contributing to government corruption, or attending a struggling school system. This may be the reality for some of Detroit, but it is not the reality for all of Detroit.
Rounding out the story would prove that NBC's interests and efforts were not to simply gain ratings at the expense of the city, its residents and supporters. You showed the heartbreak...we'd like to see the hope.
Office of Mayor Dave Bing
City of Detroit